Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
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it was amazing

"That was the year Zosma sank to its knees and bled great gouts of men into a war about nothing."

This is a very well written book. Laini Taylor writes beautiful prose.

It's also very imaginative, there are ideas in it that really impressed me. It's a book that's low on violence and action - high in character, mystery, and especially ... beauty.

The first big chunk of the book is spent with our hero, the eponymous Strange, most of it in a library - a surprisingly common location for fantasy stories. I guess Name of the Wind has the most famous library in fantasy but vast and ancient libraries are very nicely presented in many other tales such as Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer or Bancroft's Arm of the Sphinx. Laslo is nicely developed as a thoroughly nice guy with an open mind, bags of curiosity, and an obsession with a "lost" city.

Later on we're introduced to a group who represent another common device in fantasy - a family with diverse magical powers, much like the ones found in The Library at Mount Char, or Umbrella Academy, or even X-Men. But this doesn't mean it's unoriginal - the characters are wonderfully drawn and some of their powers are very interesting.

Inevitably the two threads entwine and Laslo gets to interact with our family of godlings. A romance springs up but in a very charming way and a series of unusual settings. "Romance" can turn off as many readers as it attracts. In some it will evoke thoughts of heaving bodices in pulpy (but wildly popular novels) churned out in vast numbers. This is not that. What makes the romance at the heart of this book appealing to me is firstly that before it starts I have become invested individually in both participants, and secondly that it builds through witty, clever, touching, and insightful dialogue (banter even).

It's a magical, mysterious, whimsical book with a hard edge to it. There is threat, loss, a dark history, and the fear that things will fall apart again.

My only disappointment with the book is the ending (which felt rather rushed to me - although when I occasionally see someone say that about one or other my own books I snort and disagree :D ). The book ends on a cliffhanger. I would rather have seen it take a little more time, go in a somewhat different direction and have been a standalone. As a standalone with a more upbeat resolution I think it would have been a truly excellent book. As book 1 of a trilogy it is still a very fine read. I'm not sure where the next book will go and I'm in no particular rush to find out BUT I really enjoyed this read and strongly recommend you checking it out too.


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Reading Progress

April 12, 2019 – Started Reading
April 12, 2019 – Shelved
April 16, 2019 –
page 240
44.78% "Enjoying this a lot. Very well written.

It employs the entertaining device of a family with very disparate super-powers, the fantasy equivalent of X-Men, which worked so well in The Library At Mount Char, and is seen in such things as The Umbrella Academy."
April 19, 2019 –
page 395
73.69% "Really enjoying it. Great writing combined with great ideas, and a romance based around cleverness, wit, kindness, hope & so many problems :)"
April 22, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Daniel I think this is a duology not a trilogy. The second book is out and unless something has changed I believe the author said that completes the story.


message 2: by Jon (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jon Adams She definitely left some room for a follow-up, but the second book completes the arc.


message 3: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary S. R. Nice point about the “being rushed” phrase 😂 that's my general reaction to hearing it about any book in general 😐


J.A. Ironside The second book in the duology - Muse of Nightmares - is, in my humble opinion, an even better book and well worth a read.


message 5: by Erin (last edited Jul 17, 2019 07:56AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin I think you'll change your mind about wanting this to be a standalone after you read Muse of Nightmares. There's so much more to the story. Strange the Dreamer became my favourite fantasy book right away. I didn't think it was possible to write a better novel, but the second part of the duology blew me away. It's stunning. The world and its history goes so much deeper than you expect, and everything is tied together so intricately. Laini Taylor has such an imagination and is the Queen of Prose, IMO.


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